President Piper, Chancellor Sauder, honored faculty, graduates, family and friends:
First, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the University of British Columbia for bestowing this honor on me. The honor is particularly significant to me because UBC provided me with my postgraduate training and gave me my first faculty appointment in the Department of Surgery, thereby launching my academic career. My wife, Kim, is here with me and very happy to be in the city she loves. I don't think she has quite forgiven me for leaving this beautiful city and wonderful University.
And now, let me congratulate the families of the graduates, without whose support and sacrifice this poignant moment of academic achievement would not have been possible. To the graduates themselves, I say, "Bravo!" You have endured the rigors that a first-class university education imposes and have survived. But more than that, you are most fortunate to be graduating in science at the beginning of the 21st Century.
In the 20th Century, at different times, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering and biology became dominant disciplines whose discoveries transformed human life on Earth and even beyond. In the 21st century, new horizons of discovery will become possible because science, engineering, mathematics, bioninformatics and biomedical research will become interwoven.
We are moving from the era of single-discipline-based reductionist science to the science of complexity. This transformation has been possible partly because of the revolution in microchip and computer technology and bioinformatics, a revolution that is spawning such fields as nanotechnology, molecular engineering, and medical robotics.
The University of California, for example, at the initiative of Governor Davis, is developing three new institutes, each of for technology and innovation, bringing disciplines of science to achieve new discoveries that will benefit the citizens and the economy of California. Other states are now following suit. The one that UCSF has been asked to develop brings quantitative biology, bioninformatics, bioengineering, and advanced imaging together in one building on our new campus. I hope the government of British Columbia will make similar investment in UBC Innovation and in the provincial economy. The elucidation of the human genome is moving science from studies of DNA function to functional genomics, which will transform population health care to care that is tailored to each individual member of society.
A new paradigm is emerging in which biomedical and other biological studies are moving from in vivo research to in vitro and now to in silica research. This transformation, too, is bringing scientists from different disciplines together to work on common problems. The other day, I heard Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of the National Science Foundation in The U.S., say that biocomplexity is the major object of study by the N.S.F. at the beginning of the 21st century.
That is why I started by saying how fortunate you are to be graduating in science at this particular time in history. Your opportunities are many, varied, interwoven, and exciting. I wish you good luck and successful and fulfilling careers.
Chancellor Sauder, President Piper, let me again express my deep appreciation for this honor and express my gratitude to Professor Richard Finely and my colleagues in the Department of Surgery for nominating me for this singular recognition. I share this honor with them.